We're sure going to miss all the snow.
Nugget and I took a three-week vacation to visit family in Utah. Gary joined us for the last week. And now we're all back in Oregon again.
We're sure going to miss all the snow.
I took Nugget to the dog park today. We were both really excited: Nugget because he loves the dog park and I because it had stopped raining. But oh wow. Prepare to be disappointed.
Immediately after we entered the dog park, two very large dogs ran up and jumped on me. One of them punched my unborn child and the other nipped at my face. Then another dog charged up and full-on attacked Nugget. I had to rip the dog off of Nugget while simultaneously trying not to get bit, screaming "Stop it!", and attempting to get the two big dogs off of myself. It was a challenge and took a while because, you know, I'm six months pregnant.
When I finally managed to restore some sanity to the group of dogs, I looked up, wondering where the dog owners were and why they hadn't done a $&*# thing about what had just happened. They were all standing in a circle, discussing how infuriating it was when people brought their kids to the dog park.
"Like just the other day," one woman was saying, "someone brought in their little boy and my dog knocked him down THREE TIMES!"
"You know what you should do," another woman responded. "You should call the police and tell them that those people are endangering their children for bringing them in here."
"That's a good idea," the first woman agreed. "I'll do that next time."
Yes, yes, because when your dog knocks down a toddler THREE TIMES, you should definitely call the police on his parents. I mean, those people are so irresponsible. Seriously, control your children.
Nugget and I fought our way to the exit and left, covered in mud and murderous thoughts.
Nugget is a very family-oriented dog. He loves doing everything with us and even tries to sneak his dinner into the living room if that's where we are.
A few weekends ago, I suggested that we have a slumber party in the living room. Nugget always sleeps in a crate, so I thought it would be fun to start a tradition of having slumber parties twice a year (on the LDS General Conference weekends) so that he could sleep near us. Gary agreed, so we pulled out the air mattresses and dressed them with sheets and blankets. I folded a blanket up for Nugget next to my side and then went to change into my pajamas. When I got back, he was curled up on his blanket, all ready for his first slumber party.
Gary and I settled onto the air mattresses, and then for several hours, I tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable enough to fall into a decent slumber. It was not to be. In the middle of the night, I finally gave up and turned to Gary, whispering to him that I was going to bed. Apparently, he wasn't sleeping well either because he was awake enough to reply, "Me too." As I turned to crawl off the air mattress, I couldn't help feeling bad about bailing on the little pup...until I realized that he wasn't on his blanket anymore. I went into his bedroom and what do you know. He had given up on the slumber party long before we did and was already sleeping soundly in his crate. Jerk.
I refer to my training sessions with Nugget as "tricks for treats". I use soft liver treats that a PetsMart employee once referred to as "crack cocaine for dogs". Needless to say, he goes nuts for them. I usually preface our training sessions by asking Nugget, "Do you what to plaaaaay....tricks for treats?!?!" and then he jumps around doing spin moves.
The other day, we were all having a quiet evening in the living room. Gary was doing homework, I was reading on the couch, and Nugget was lounging on the floor. I decided to pull a prank on Gary, so when Nugget looked my way, I mouthed silently, "Do you want to plaaaaay...tricks for treats?" Sure enough, Nugget started flipping out. Gary looked up, startled, and exclaimed, "Whoa! What's wrong with him?!"
Nothing, Gary. He's a well-trained (er...addicted) dog.
We went on a short backpacking adventure last weekend to Mirror Lake.
We had the trail and lake entirely to ourselves that night with the exception of the swarms of mosquitoes that had dibbs on all the campsites near the lake. We backtracked and made our own campsite in the middle of a rhododendron wilderness. I made a small fire using green wood and we smoked out the few mosquitoes that we still had humming around our heads. Nugget had a ball exploring until bedtime, when we all stuffed ourselves in the little tent and fell asleep to the pitter patter of rain on our tent roof.
When we got home, Gary and I made a deal: I would teach his Gospel Principles lesson on Sunday if he would clean the house. This is a picture of Gary cleaning up the camping stuff:
When Gary and I were reading up about Australian Shepherds before committing to one, we found a lot stuff on the Internet that said, "Aussies are very smart dogs. Sometimes too smart."
"What's too smart?" we'd ask one another. "Like, they correct your grammar during an argument?" We didn't know. So we threw caution to the wind and got ourselves a too-smart dog.
It was great at first. He was instantly crate-trained and quickly followed it up with sit, stay, down, roll over, crawl, jump, and do-a-spin-move. We even coaxed him into fetching inanimate objects, like tennis and soccer balls (more on that later). But our proudest achievement was the establishment of "the line". Basically, we have an invisible boundary in our house, right down the middle of our hallway, which Nugget is not allowed to pass. He's allowed to hang out in the living room, kitchen, and, of course, his own bedroom, but he's not allowed down the hall to the bathrooms or other bedrooms. We initially created the barrier with boxes and then started removing them one by one, correcting Nugget if he ever tried to cross "the line". We slowly downsized to just a piece of string lying across the carpet and then one day...all the training wheels were off. The line was officially invisible. And much to our pride and joy, Nugget stayed on his side of the line.
Until his too-smart kicked in.
First, it started with the visitors. When my little sister Jill came up to visit, Nugget fell in love with her. And Jill, with all due respect, is a bit of a push-over when it comes to puppy dogs. Nugget quickly made a mental note of it. One evening, while I was distracted, Nugget snuck over his line to kiss Jill goodnight IN AN OFF-LIMITS ROOM. And she didn't kick him out! She petted him.
Even after she left, the seed had already been planted. Inch by inch, Nugget would slowly start extending his line further and further down the hallway.
Nugget now has a "reminder pillow". But as you can see, he still toes the line. (And gripes about it.)
In addition to his testing of boundaries, Nugget also flat-out ignores the line when he knows he can get away with it. I'll be sitting in the bathroom and suddenly hear Nugget sniffing under the door. "Hey!" I shout. I quickly wash my hands and fling open the door. But by then, of course, Nugget is lounging lazily in the living room. When I ask him what kind of cheeky move he's trying to pull, he'll give me half a disinterested glance before returning his attention to his television program. This happens frequently. I've never caught him in the act.
But Gary did once. It was a Saturday and Gary had been outside all morning. Nugget must have assumed he was at work. I was taking a shower in our master bathroom when Gary decided to come inside to get some socks. When he came into our room, he saw Nugget curled up next the bathroom door. Before Gary even said anything, Nugget's eyes got big and he slinked outta there real fast. Busted!
The other thing that Nugget can be "too smart" about is what he will or will not chase. Teaching Nugget how to fetch was a pain because he only likes chasing things with a working heartbeat. We finally came to an agreement that he will bring the balls and frisbees back in exchange for a treat. Gary rarely gives Nuggets treats, so when Gary throws a ball and give the command to "go get it!", Nugget still brings it to me. Because guys, this is serious work. It deserves payment.
I used to be pretty bummed about Nugget's insistance on only chasing living things, but today at the dog park, I realized that it can sometimes come in handy. I don't have to bring a ball with me to the dog park, nor do I have to throw it repeatedly and worry about other dogs stealing it. Instead, we chase dragonflies.
This morning, there was a particular abundance of dragonflies. I just pointed to one and said, "There's one, Nugget! There's one!" And off he went, sprinting and darting around like a champion herding dog. I then got to walk back over to a picnic table and just watch as he exercised himself. I also got to overhear a woman ask someone else what in the world was that little dog chasing. "The ghosts, of course," I wanted to tell her.
On Friday, Gary and I went to our favorite crawdad spot. There's a big pipe running out into the river with large stones on either side, which provides a perfect hideout for little crawdads and easy access for us. We tie hot dogs onto a string, attach the string to a stick, and lower our bait into the water. Once crawdads start chomping on the hot dogs, we slowly pull them up and snag them with a net. We didn't catch very many this time because I, um, slipped off the pipe and fell into the river.